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Reflection after Black Mountain and Umstead Marathon

A day after Umstead Marathon, I was stranded at CLT due to flight cancellations and delays. It is only going to be a short trip - which is even shorter now - to renew my work visa. Without my laptop and so much time to burn, I browsed through and caught up in my reading of Runner’s World, Backpackers, and Outdoor. Time didn’t look interesting. I didn’t see the New Yorker. Then, the Harvard Business Journal caught my eyes with bright yellow letters: Work vs Life. While I am sad that we compartmentalize work and consider the rest of our lives outside of work...life, I admit that I struggle with the same thing. We all know the looming fear of Monday after an epic weekend spent with friends, on trails, in a cabin, by the fire, up in the mountains. And when Monday eventually comes…

In the article, Harvard business students survey over 4,000 executives in regards to their work/life balance and draw conclusions from almost five years' worth of interviews. The key to such balance? Make deliberate choices. And the first choice you have to make is to define your own success.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
The Apostle Paul’s success is found in knowing Christ. After all, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” There are many means to this end, whether at work or at play. This has me revisiting my definition of success in life, work, and play (read: running).

After not being able to run much in both January and February due to shin and calf issues, I miraculously ran two marathons on back-to-back weekends. These two marathons wouldn't be considered as a success a couple months ago when I was running better without hinderance and injuries. But for now, they are great successes because (1) I plodded through them. (2) I got to spent several hours enjoying the beautiful trails with great company, and also some much needed solitude at times. (3) I am thankful and am mindful that running is a gift. Despite how I feel about my “performance,” I couldn’t help but speculate that God considers these greater success than my other PRs when I neglected all the above.

Sometimes I think God takes away things from us for a good reason, namely for our well-being and character that matter more than our desires. My desire might be becoming faster, but that’s an elusive goal. What often follows is I overtrain, I don’t rest enough, and I end up with injuries that set me back. As frustrating as it sounds, sometimes I'm also thankful about it. It reminds me that speed doesn't last. It wakes me up from building my life around running. It rescues me from letting running be my idol. It onces again teaches me that running for me is about becoming a better person, a better employee, a better friend, not just a better/faster runner. Obviously, I, not God, inflict these injuries on myself, but I often find healing when I finally let my desires and pride go. Do I still want to gain speed? Yes! But I want to do it with the right heart and a humble spirit.

At any rate, I had a lot of fun the past two weekends. I don't know what this season holds, but I'm looking forward to every adventure that God brings me on, the people I get to share the journey with, and the lesson He wants to teach me.


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